Background: Dietary glycemic load (GL) and glycemic index (GI) in relation to cardiovascular disease have been investigated in a few prospective studies with inconsistent results, particularly in men. The present EPICOR study investigated the association of GI and GL with coronary heart disease (CHD) in a large and heterogeneous cohort of Italian men and women originally recruited to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.
Methods: We studied 47 749 volunteers (15 171 men and 32 578 women) who completed a dietary questionnaire. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards modeling estimated adjusted relative risks (RRs) of CHD and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: During a median of 7.9 years of follow-up, 463 CHD cases (158 women and 305 men) were identified. Women in the highest carbohydrate intake quartile had a significantly greater risk of CHD than did those in the lowest quartile (RR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.16-3.43), with no association found in men (P = .04 for interaction). Increasing carbohydrate intake from high-GI foods was also significantly associated with greater risk of CHD in women (RR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.02-2.75), whereas increasing the intake of low-GI carbohydrates was not. Women in the highest GL quartile had a significantly greater risk of CHD than did those in the lowest quartile (RR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.26-3.98), with no significant association in men (P = .03 for interaction).
Conclusion: In this Italian cohort, high dietary GL and carbohydrate intake from high-GI foods increase the overall risk of CHD in women but not men.